Former Baltimore Ravens football player Brendon Ayanbadejo, who has been one of the most vocal athletes in favor of gay athletes and same-sex marriage, said as many as four gay NFL players may come out at the same time, and the groundwork is being laid to ease the potential backlash that may come from the announcements.
Ayanbadejo, whom the Ravens cut this week, told the Baltimore Sun on Friday that multiple players coming out would be better than a single player coming out alone.
“I think it will happen sooner than you think,” Ayanbadejo said. “We’re in talks with a handful of players who are considering it. There are up to four players being talked to right now and they’re trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy. It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out.”
The former Baltimore special teams player said he knew there would be a “backlash” against such players, and it “would be more positive” if the players “could share the backlash.”
“It’s cool. It’s exciting,” Ayanbadejo said. “We’re in talks with a few guys who are considering it. The NFL and organizations are already being proactive and open if a player does it and if something negative happens. We’ll see what happens.”
Ayanbadejo supported Maryland’s same-sex ballot initiative last November and, along with Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, filed a brief in support of same sex marriage in California’s Proposition 8 case that the Supreme Court heard last month.
Past comments from NFL players give credence to Ayanbadejo’s suggestion that there may be some backlash.
For instance, San Francisco 49ers nickel cornerback Chris Culliver said before the Super Bowl that an openly gay player may not be welcomed in NFL locker rooms, and Seattle Seahawks star defense end Chris Clemons recently said it would be a “selfish act” for gay players to openly declare their sexual orientation while in the NFL when they could have done so before they got to the league.